Govt passes two bills in Rajya Sabha amidst protest by Congress,
Express News Service, March
Having managed the
support of the smaller parties, the government Friday got two
crucial pieces of legislation passed in the Rajya Sabha but not
before the Congress and the Left parties put up a stiff fight,
criticising the government for the haste with which it was
pushing through the bills, and for attempting to encroach on the
rights of the states.
On the last day of the first part of Budget Session, before the
Parliament goes into a month-long recess, hurried debates in the
Rajya Sabha saw the passing of the Mines and Minerals
(Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill in the morning, and
the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill in the afternoon. Both
these bills had already been passed by the Lok Sabha where the
government enjoys comfortable majority.
Both the bills were opposed by the Congress and the Left
parties, moving several amendments all but one of which were
rejected. Digvijaya Singh and P Bhattacharya of the Congress,
Tapan Kumar Sen and P Rajeeve of the CPM and D Raja of the CPI
were the most vocal opponents of the bills. ?You are altering
the basic structure of the 1973 Coal Mines Nationalisation Act.
The nationalisation quadrupled the coal production, coal
conservation has improved, accidents have reduced and the
workers? lot has improved. You are now trying to reverse this.
We are opposed to this reversion. We oppose the bill,? Tapan
Kumar Sen said during the debate on the Coal Mines (Special
Congress?s Digvijaya Singh said the provision to allow coal
mining companies to sell in the open market after their own
requirements were fulfilled would lead to black marketing and
rise in coal prices. ?We had suggested that if you still want to
do this, bring in a regulator but the government did not listen
to us,? he said.
A number of parties, which otherwise oppose the government like
the TMC, NCP and the DMK, voted in support of the two bills. The
MMDR Amendment bill was passed with 117 votes in favour and 69
against, while the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill got the
support of 107 members and 62 opposed it.
Earlier, P Rajeeve of the CPM wanted the House to refer the two
bills to the Select Committee once again as sufficient
discussion had not taken place, but his resolution was rejected.
Rajiv Shukla of the Congress said the government had missed a
wonderful opportunity to reform the coal sector due to the
A number of opposition speakers wanted an assurance from the
government that the interests of the workers of the coal mines
whose allotment have been cancelled by the Supreme Court will be
protected. Coal Minister Piyush Goyal said the fears of the
members were unfounded and claimed that the provision to let
mining companies sell coal in the open market will drive down
prices that will benefit small industries like brick kilns and
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